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Commons Chamber

Volume 363: debated on Tuesday 30 July 1940

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House Of Commons

Tuesday, 30th July, 1940.

The House met at a Quarter before Three of the Clock, Mr. SPEAKER in the Chair.

Untitled Debate

Oral Answers To Questions

Internees (Dominions)


asked the Under-Secretary of State for Dominion Affairs whether he will make representations to try to secure the return to this country, or the liberation in Canada, of those class C aliens who were sent to Canada by mistake?


asked the Under-Secretary of State for Dominion Affairs whether the Dominion Governments now responsible for alien refugees sent from this country have been given all the information available so that they may distinguish between the few who might be enemy agents and the many who have given proof, in German concentration camps and eleswhere, of their hatred of Hitler?


asked the Under-Secretary of State for Dominon Affairs whether he will give an assurance that full information will be supplied to the Dominion Governments to which interned refugees are being sent, differentiating clearly between those who were interned for safety reasons and those who are considered refugees from Nazi oppression, and who are friendly and loyal to the Allied cause?


asked the Under-Secretary of State for Dominion Affairs whether he has been in communication with Dominion Governments respecting the condition and treatment of internees sent from this country; whether he has obtained an assurance that internees shall not be treated overseas as hostile prisoners of war; and whether he has conveyed to those Governments the desirability of applying to internees the more improved and enlightened standards of treatment now becoming operative in this country?

I have been asked to reply. There is no risk of any confusion between prisoners of war and civilian internees sent to the Dominions. As regards the latter, my right hon. Friend is fully alive to the necessity for supplying to the Government of any Dominion to which internees have been, or may be, sent as much information as possible regarding them, in order to ensure proper discrimination in their treatment. A communication on the subject has already been sent to the Government of Canada, which is the only Dominion that has yet received any internees, and one will shortly be sent to Australia, to which country internees are now on their way. It is hoped to make arrangements, in consultation with the Governments of Canada and Australia, for the return to this country of those whose release can properly be authorised.

Are the Home Office alive to the fact that many of those sent out were marked "A" and have been interned, and might just as easily have been marked "C"; further, that they were interned marked "A" because of their Socialist actions, which are no longer a bar?

I am aware of the fact stated by my right hon. Friend. We have already sent to Canada information as to the distinction to be drawn between the different categories, and we are following that information up with detailed information about each individual internee.

Has any information been received from the Canadian Government as to the attitude they propose to take in regard to various categories of internees; and in any case that they will not place A, B and C men together in the same internment camp?

We have advised the Canadian Government as to the distinction to be drawn, both as regards A, B and C, and as to the privileges to be afforded to the different categories.

Can we have a report upon the conditions and treatment of these internees in Canada?

Certainly; I am inviting the Dominion Government to send us a communication on that matter.

Unless the list is sent to the Dominion Governments, how can they tell which are A, B and C, etc.? It is very important that the detailed list should go very quickly, otherwise I do not see how the Dominions can distinguish between one category and another.

They can distinguish, because when we were making shipment to the Dominion we placed the different categories upon different ships.

To whom should applications be addressed for the return of aliens wrongfully deported?

We are arranging to issue a White Paper as to the release of internees and the normal procedure to be followed, that is to say, notification to the Home Office.

Is it not a fact that many lads of 16 years of age have gone out? Could they not apply for release?

Trade And Commerce

Industrial Art And Design


asked the President of the Board of Trade whether he will refuse to sanction the articles of association of the Central Institute of Art and Design and not allow it to function, pending consultation with all interests who are interested in any form; whether he is satisfied that the governing body responsible for the administration of the National Register of Industrial Art Designers is fully efficient; and whether he will review the whole question in the light of future needs?

The Board of Trade have entertained an application made by the association under Section 18 of the Companies Act, 1929, to be registered, with the licence of the Board of Trade, as a company with limited liability, but without the addition of the word "Limited" to its name. In accordance with the usual procedure, an application so entertained has to be advertised in two successive weeks. Any objections which may be raised to the grant of the Board's licence are considered before the licence is granted, and if the hon. Member will forward to me a statement of the objections on which his Question is based, I will see that they are fully considered. I have no reason to think that the governing body of the National Register of Industrial Art Designers is in any way inadequate, nor have I received representations on this subject.

I do not propose to take this matter any further, at this stage, Mr. Speaker, if the right hon. Gentleman undertakes to hold up the articles of association, pending further representations being made.

Coal Exports


asked the President of the Board of Trade whether he has any statement to make on the reduction in exports due to the loss of French and Italian markets; and whether he has any plans for the creation of new markets to make up the deficiency?

Coal was by far the largest item of our exports both to France and Italy. Since the war, the total volume of all exports to France had much increased, and considerable changes also took place in the make-up of the trade, owing to France's situation and war needs: In this period, indeed, our exports were made more to assist our Ally in the struggle against the common enemy than for commercial reasons, and the loss of the French market must not therefore be regarded as comparable in its effects with the loss of a neutral market taking a similar amount of exports. A considerable proportion of the goods exported to France would have been very valuable to our own war effort. Every effort is being made to find other markets for those goods which do not fall into this category. Of these, coal is much the most important and, as my hon. Friend the Secretary for Mines stated in reply to a Question on 23rd July, the coal industry is being consulted as to the best methods to promote this trade.

Do we understand from the answer of the right hon. Gentleman that the loss of the French market is of little consequence, despite the fact that we exported coal and other commodities which are of primary importance; and can he rely entirely on the good will and the efforts of the coal industry in regard to facilities in the search for new markets?

I have not said, and I hope I have not implied, that the loss of the French market is of little consequence.

Are we to understand from the right hon. Gentleman that the export of goods to France meant very little to us in war-time?

Is my right hon. Friend aware that, despite the appeal that people should store coal or coke, it is impossible in many parts of England to get coal or coke, and that this is a source of purchase which is available?

I hope I did make it clear that our export trade to France for the last few months consisted in part of many things which would have been welcome at home, and that the loss of the market of France in those products is not really a loss to us at all. On the other hand, for the other part, which we would gladly export to France, it will be our task to find an alternative market.

Bank Holiday (Cancellation)


asked the President of the Board of Trade whether it is the desire of the Government that business establishments throughout the country should remain open on Monday, 5th August, particularly having regard to the difficulties which may otherwise result in the reception of goods?

Yes, Sir. August Bank Holiday has been cancelled by Defence Regulations, and it is the wish of the Government that business should proceed normally on that day. I would add that, on any day on which it may be found necessary to close establishments for repair or cleaning or other reasons, it is desirable, in the national interest, that arrangements should be made for the reception of goods, in order to avoid both wastage of labour, time and fuel, and also to avoid delays in the clearance of traffic.

Economic Warfare

Contraband Control (Navicerts)


asked the Minister of Economic Warfare whether, in view of the fact that German occupation now extends to the Spanish frontier, a system of contraband control will be instituted over the imports of Spain and Portugal?


asked the Minister of Economic Warfare whether he has any statement to make concerning new measures to enforce the blockade?

With the permission of my hon. Friends, I will answer these Questions together in a statement at the end of Questions.


German occupation of the West European coastline from the North Cape to the Pyrenees has greatly changed the conditions of the economic war. The German Armies have succeeded in overrunning large parts of Western Europe, but the overseas imports which they require are still barred from the seas commanded by the Royal Navy. Many fewer ships are now engaged on legitimate neutral trade between Europe and the Americas. Moreover, we must now control, not only shipping approaching the Mediterranean or the North Sea, but all shipping crossing the Atlantic. To apply this control in the old way would mean diverting many ships far out of their course to contraband bases in British waters, either in this island or in West Africa. To avoid imposing such grave inconveniences upon shippers, shipowners and crews, His Majesty's Government have decided to extend the navicert system to all seaborne goods consigned to any European port, as well as to certain Atlantic islands and to certain neutral ports in North Africa. In future ships sailing from a neutral port to any such destination must obtain navicerts for all items of cargo, and in addition a ship navicert at the last port of loading. Any consignment not navicerted and any ship without a ship navicert, will henceforth be liable to seizure by our patrols. The same rules will apply to outgoing trade. Ships sailing from European ports, or from certain Atlantic islands, or from certain neutral ports in North Africa must have certificates of non-enemy origin for all items of their cargoes, and any ship whose cargo is not fully certificated will be liable to be seized together with all uncertificated items of the cargo. An Order-in-Council giving effect to these changes will be issued forthwith.

It has been suggested in some quarters that we intend to extend the blockade to certain neutral countries. This is not so. Where supplies can reach such neutrals without the risk of falling into the hands of the enemy we shall grant navicerts on such a scale as to allow imports adequate for domestic consumption, but not for reexport to other countries. Moreover, it will be the policy of His Majesty's Government not merely to allow such adequate supplies to pass through our controls, but to assist neutral countries to obtain them. These measures will greatly benefit those engaged in honest neutral trade. Delays in such trade, due to the exercise of our controls, will be much reduced. At the same time, a heavy blow will be struck at those who seek to elude our controls and to carry supplies either to or from the enemy. Our friends will be further encouraged, and our enemies discomforted, by some ingenious provisions which my right hon. Friend the Minister of Shipping will, I understand, immediately announce.

Finally, I would recall that on 2nd July I informed the House that contraband control had been extended to French territory under enemy control and that no goods were being allowed to reach the enemy through unoccupied France. After a most careful review of all the circumstances, His Majesty's Government have now decided, with regret, that in present conditions they must treat all metropolitan France, as well as Algeria, Tunisia and French Morocco, in the same manner, for the purposes of contraband and enemy export control, as enemy-controlled territory. Goods destined for these territories are, therefore, liable to be seized as contraband and goods originating in, or owned by persons in, such territories, are liable to be placed in prize. These steps, which I have now announced, are designed to smooth the path of genuine neutral trade, while increasing the strength of our blockade and avoiding all unnecessary calls upon the Royal Navy.

Spain (Oil Imports)


asked the Minister of Economic Warfare whether shipments of oil and oil-products to Spain from America are greatly in excess of last year's quantities; whether he has information to show that oil is reaching Germany from Spain; and whether he will give an assurance that every endeavour will be made to ensure that no more oil reaches Spain than she legitimately requires for her own normal consumption?


asked the Minister of Economic Warfare whether he is taking steps to prevent the importation into Spain of oil in excess of her normal requirements?

Shipments of oil and oil products to Spain from America during the first half of this year have been substantially greater than during the corresponding period of last year. Before the collapse of France the only route by which oil could reach Germany from Spain was by sea across the Western Mediterranean and through Italy, and we relied upon French naval patrols to prevent such traffic. Since the collapse of France many features of the situation have become obscure, and I am sending an officer of my Ministry to Spain this week in order to confer with the Spanish authorities and with His Majesty's Ambassador at Madrid. The desire of His Majesty's Government is to enable Spain to receive adequate supplies of oil for her own internal consumption, but not for re-export, and to maintain her oil stocks at a reasonable and steady level.

In view of the fact that the exports for this year are greater than last year, is it not obvious that Spain has been allowed to accumulate stocks of oil which may possibly be used against us?

In view of the fact that Spain is non-belligerent, why give her any oil at all?

In the light of the answer that I gave, I think it is evident that the stocks of oil in Spain are likely to be at a higher level now than they were a year ago, and it is precisely to investigate this and kindred matters that I am sending my oil adviser to Spain.

Then I presume the hon. Gentleman's answer means that the stocks in Spain will be taken into account in determining how much will be allowed to go to Spain in future? Will he give an assurance that Spain will not be allowed to play the part which Italy played prior to her entry into the war?

The stocks of oil, when ascertained, will obviously be an element in determining the future import requirements. With regard to Italy, I hope we have all learned a lesson from that experience.

Can we ensure that the credits we are making to Spain will not be used to purchase oil?

I think that is a different question, and I am not sure that it falls within my Department.


asked the Minister of Economic Warfare whether he has any information on the imports of lubricating oil into Spain; and whether he has any reason to believe that some portion of this oil is passing into German hands?

Yes, Sir, I have a good deal of information on the subject of these imports. I have no evidence of reexports of lubricating oil to Germany, but stocks in Spain appear to be so high relatively to domestic consumption that no navicerts are now being issued.

While appreciating the decision of the right hon. Gentleman, is he not aware that many months ago it was decided to operate navicerts in order to prevent contraband proceeding to neutral countries which might pass into the hands of the enemy, and why, after all the activity in relation to oil, has he now decided to take action or why has action not been taken very much sooner?

I think that perhaps my hon. Friend will get some part of the answer to his inquiry if he will await the statement which I shall make at the end of Questions on the navicert question generally.

But does the right hon. Gentleman not realise that we were told quite categorically that the navicert system was to be put into operation in January last, and now, many months afterwards, we are still discussing whether it is to be put into operation?

The navicerts have not been compulsory up to now. They have been a convenience availed of by certain shippers and shipowners. I think the hon. Gentleman had better wait for my statement at the end of Questions.

Has His Majesty's Ambassador in Spain been requested to inquire of the Spanish Government whether they are selling oil to our enemies across the Pyrenees? Whether the answer is in the negative or in the affirmative, will it not provide the right hon. Gentleman with a basis for action?

I have already stated in answer to a previous Question that I am sending an officer out to make contact with the Spanish Government.

Is it not the case that at this time, when America decided to restrict the supply of oil to Spain, the Government made an agreement with Spain which provides for the supply of oil?

American Surplus Products


asked the Minister of Economic Warfare whether he will consider what steps can be taken to assist the Government of the United States of America in securing markets for, or holding over for a time, the surplus products of the American Continent?

The question of surpluses in relation to the blockade is under continuous examination by my Ministry. A Ministerial sub-committee of the Economic Policy Committee has recently been set up to formulate policy on this question in its wider aspects. As my hon. Friend will be aware, the question has recently been discussed at the Havana Conference. His Majesty's Government have already intimated to the United States Government their great interest in the general question of world surpluses and their readiness to co-operate in the study of any possible solution of the problems.

"Arandora Star"


asked the Secretary of State for War whether he will order an inquiry into the discipline and circumstances connected with the loss of anti-Nazi Germans and anti-Fascist Italians in the "Arandora Star," in particular as to the putting up of a Nazi flag in a mess-room and forcing the anti-Nazis to salute it, and the locking up of 200 below at the time of the sinking?

I have made inquiries, and have been unable to obtain confirmation of the alleged incident as to the Nazi flag. I am definitely assured that no internees were locked up below decks or elsewhere.

Why was it that the survivors from the "Arandora Star" were immediately shipped off abroad before they could give any evidence or information?

That is another question, but I have caused inquiries to be made of the chief officer of the ship, who was one of the gallant crew who did their best to save these people, and he is quite definite that nobody was locked up either below decks or anywhere else. His evidence is quite sufficient for me.

Having seen the boat and the crew, is the right hon. Gentleman satisfied that there was no Nazi flag flying on board that ship?

Is it not regrettable that Questions of this kind should be put unless there is definite evidence justifying them?

On a point of Order, Mr. Speaker. I think I am entitled to point out to the right hon. Gentleman, to you, Sir, and to the House that it is a matter for the honour of this country that there should be nothing of this sort happening. There should be a full inquiry.

British Army

Foreign Volunteers


asked the Secretary of State for War whether he can give any hope of the early formation of a foreign legion officered by British officers in which friendly aliens in this country, refused for the British Army, could enlist and obtain at least training and discipline?

As I explained in the answer which I gave to my right hon. Friend and to my hon. Friend the Member for Ealing (Sir F. Sanderson) on Tuesday last, French, Polish, Czech, Dutch, Norwegian and Belgian units are being organised and equipped, and friendly aliens who do not join any of these national forces may be enlisted in the Auxiliary Military Pioneer Corps. A number are so serving already.

Can the right hon. Gentleman say whether, when he talks of friendly aliens, he is thinking of aliens who are friendly in the strict sense of the word, that is to say, in the territorial sense?

County Regiments


asked the Secretary of State for War whether, in view of the possibility that the war may be fought out on British soil, and of the consequent importance of a knowledge of local topography and conditions, he will, as far as military circumstances allow, keep county regiments in those counties whose names they bear?

On reflection, I feel sure that my hon. Friend will appreciate that his Question pre-supposes a static defence for the Field Army which does not accord with our present strategy.

Higher Commands


asked the Secretary of State for War whether he will bring to the notice of the Army Council the desirability of selecting from the lower ranks of serving officers of the Army a dozen or more officers, not above the rank of captain, who should be specially trained and afterwards appointed to take over higher command, in view of the importance of utilising the brains, imagination and initiative which exists amongst the thousands of officers now serving who have not attained field rink?

All promotion to higher acting and temporary rank in war is by merit and not by seniority. There is, thus, every chance for the young officer of outstanding merit to reach higher rank.

Does my right hon. Friend not realise that modern warfare requires both drive and initiative, and that antiquity and obsolete and defunct minds are quite useless?

As far as the General Staff and the general officers now commanding are concerned, I do not recognise the hon. Gentleman's definition.

Can the right hon. Gentleman state how many junior officers who are not Regular serving officers have the chance of rising much higher than major, even in this war?

The hon. and gallant Gentleman surely knows enough of the Army to answer that question for himself.

Home Guard


asked the Secretary of State for War why Mr. Steele, of Chalfont Heights, Buckinghamshire, an ex-service man, who applied in proper form about two months ago to join the Local Defence Volunteers, has not yet been enrolled, although the section for his area is under strength?

I have ascertained that Mr. Steele's registration form was posted by the police to the company commander, but that the latter did not receive it. This is being explained to Mr. Steele, and he is being informed that he can now be enrolled.

Is it not rather curious that this is the second instance in this area? These forms cannot always be going wrong. Will the right hon. Gentleman not instruct those in charge that political bias must not enter into the question?


asked the Secretary of State for War whether he is aware that the Local Defence Volunteers River Section, Thames Embankment, have been ordered by their company commander to provide themselves with uniform and kit, costing from £4 to £10, on the grounds that this has been prescribed by the authorities and has indicated that those unwilling to purchase kit in this way could resign; and whether this order has been issued with War Office sanction?

I am informed that no such order as that suggested was given by the company commander, but that the members of the company themselves wished to wear the blue reefer jacket and trousers and yachting cap which they all possess.


asked the Secretary of State for War what arrangements are contemplated to provide the means of livelihood for Local Defence Volunteers and their families should the former be called up for a period of days, or longer, in order to assist in repelling attempts at invasion?

The Home Guard is a voluntary, unpaid, part-time force, and its members will not normally be absent from their homes, except for their ordinary spells of duty. It is recognised, however, that circumstances may arise in the event of an attempt at invasion when, as a result of the exigencies of the military situation and in areas directly affected by the attempted invasion, volunteers may not be able to rejoin their families for a few days or even for more extended periods. In such circumstances, the military authorities will accept full responsibility for feeding the volunteers themselves, and provision will be available for their families, if they are in need.

Is the Minister aware of the very important point that many of these men are out night after night, and have to go to work the following day? Should not something be done to meet their case?


asked the Secretary of State for War whether he will consider providing Army footwear to members of the Home Defence as, during the coming winter, good strong boots will be necessary to keep them fit for the duties they will undertake?

I am glad to be able to inform my hon. Friend that members of the Home Guard are to be supplied with boots.

Can the right hon. Gentleman say when he is likely to complete the whole supply that is required?

Will the Secretary of State for War supply first country areas where men have to go through long grass during the night and have to go to work in the same boots the next day?

Will the right hon. Gentleman see that miners who leave their shoes and clogs at the pit have these shoes first?


asked the Secretary of State for War whether he is aware that an ex-soldier who joins the Home Guard is not allowed to wear his discharge badge on his uniform; what order prevents such a man from showing that he was a member of His Majesty's Forces; and will he state the reason for such disallowance?

The silver war badge was instituted in 1916 for those who had been discharged as physically unfit, and was intended for wear with civilian clothes. It was later permitted to be worn with uniform by those who rejoined, but this concession was withdrawn in 1922, when the wearing of wound stripes and chevrons denoting overseas service also ceased.


asked the Secretary of State for War whether he is aware that when members of the Home Guard are on night duty many of them have to go on to their employment before they go home; and will he consider allowing some form of grant to each unit to meet the expense they are put to at the present time to supply needed refreshment in such cases?

Yes, Sir. Arrangements have been made whereby a member of the Home Guard is eligible for a subsistence allowance of 1s. 6d. for a continuous period of duty of between five and ten hours, and of 3s. for a continuous period of duty in excess of ten hours.

Coast Defence Works


asked the Secretary of State for War whether he will ensure that in the construction of coast defence works there shall be prior consultation between the civil and military authorities, so that work completed by the former at considerable expense shall not be subsequently condemned by the latter?

Instructions have been issued, as a result of which I am confident that the civil authorities are now aware that these works should not be erected without prior consultation with the military authorities.

Private Soldier (Medical Examination)


asked the Secretary of State for War whether he is now able to state the decision arrived at in the case of Private R. C. Williamson, concerning whom a promise was made, on 28th May, that a report would be made on his case by the county tuberculosis officer?

Arrangements were made for Private Williamson to go into hospital yesterday for examination by the county tuberculosis officer. I regret the delay, which has been due to the fact that the unit has been on the move, but in the meantime the soldier has been reported to be in excellent health.

In view of the very long delay, extending over many months, will my right hon. Friend see that a decision is reached at the earliest possible moment?

This man has gone into hospital, and is now being examined. I cannot say more.

Reserve Of Officers


asked the Secretary of State for War whether, as officers embodied in the Royal Army Reserve of Officers who have been for many years liable to recall and who, by virtue of that liability, have been recalled prior to the outbreak of war, are not allowed to have calculated any period of their Reserve service towards promotion and higher pay, he will propose some step to adjust this matter in favour of officers so affected?

No, Sir. The general principle governing the reckoning of service for time promotion and increments of pay is that only full pay service counts for these purposes. This excludes service in the Regular Army Reserve of Officers during which no duty is performed.

Am I to understand from that answer that trained officers who have been ready and willing to serve for over 20 years are to get no priority in their present employment?

No, Sir. What my hon. Friend is to understand is that it would not be fair to allow those who have not been actively serving but who have been on the Reserve of Officers to count for promotion in the same way as those who have been actively serving.

Dependants' Allowances


asked the Secretary of State for War whether he is now in a position to make a statement relative to an increase in allowances to soldiers' wives and dependants owing to the increasing difficulty of meeting their financial obligations?

As I informed my hon. Friend on 2nd July, I have the position under review. I have no further statement to make at present.

Is the Minister satisfied that the allowance made to a soldier and his wife is adequate to give them a decent standard of life?

I have said that I have the position under review. I cannot go beyond that.

Will the Minister be in a position to make a statement on the matter before Christmas? In view of the long delay and the many questions I have addressed to him on this subject, will he give us some idea when the matter will be dealt with?

I have told the hon. Member that the matter is under review. I hope to be in a position to make a statement next week; but I do not want to give an undertaking, because there are many matters to be considered in relation to this subject.


asked the Secretary of State for War whether he is now in a position to grant allowances to dependent children in a soldier's household who are not members of his family and not legally adopted?

Yes, Sir. It has now been decided that, for the period of the war, claims may in future be made for an allowance in respect of any child who is being brought up in a soldier's household at the expense of the soldier, and who has been so brought up and maintained for a period of at least six months prior to the claim being made, provided that no payment towards the maintenance of the child is being received from any other source.

Will the right hon. Gentleman see that steps are taken to make that decision known?

I think that the matter, in view of the announcement to-day, will no doubt receive a wider publicity.

The public do not know, and will the right hon. Gentleman take steps to give the matter greater publicity?

Yes, Sir, I am taking steps to see that the Forces themselves get to know about it.

Will those who have already applied for this allowance have to apply again, or will they get it as a result of their first application?


asked the Secretary of State for War whether the Government will continue to pay to the dependant of a member of the Armed Forces the voluntary allotment made to such dependant in the event of a member of the Forces being made a prisoner of war; and will such payment be continued to the end of the war?

Can the right hon. Gentleman say whether, during the term that they are incarcerated in Germany as prisoners of war, other ranks are entitled only to this separation allowance, or are they being granted the same facilities which, I understand, are extended to officers, namely, the pay of their rank and merit allowances?

This is a question that I dealt with fully the other day, and perhaps my hon. and gallant Friend will put his Question down.

Pay And Allowances


asked the Secretary of State for War why there is substantial delay in the case of men who become entitled to increased pay either by promotion or otherwise, in their obtaining the increase?

Commanding officers can authorise the issue of increased pay to soldiers as soon as they become entitled to it. In the case of acting rank, however, increased pay is not admissible until the rank has been held for 21 days. It is then issuable with retrospective effect.


asked the Secretary of State for War whether he is aware that in many instances officers of long periods of active service in the present war are still without payment of allowances due to them on acting and temporary rank, respectively; what is the reason for this delay; and whether, to obviate the hardship, he will take steps to see that through command paymasters, bankers, or otherwise, payment is made forthwith in every case of arrears?

In the case of officers, payments in respect of acting and temporary rank are authorised by paymasters and agents as soon as the promotions appear in the War Office or Command Orders. In view of events of the past few months, my hon. Friend will appreciate that the normal processes of recording and notifying promotions made by commanders have been inevitably delayed, but I am looking into the matter with a view to arranging that outstanding cases should be cleared up with the least possible delay.

Is my right hon. Friend aware that there are officers to whom arrears for their wives' extra allowances have been accumulating for eight or nine months? What steps are they to take, whom are they to approach, to get this pay?

If my hon. Friend has cases of that kind, I shall be grateful if he will give me particulars. I know that there has been delay, for the reasons which I have given, and I am anxious that it should be cleared up.

If I give specific cases, as I can, with the officers' names, will my right hon. Friend see that they are not prejudiced as a result?

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that the present system is much less satisfactory and more troublesome than the simple system for the payment of officers in the last war? Will he look into the two systems?


asked the Secretary of State for War whether he will give an estimate of the cash values of the pay and emoluments of an unmarried private with no dependant's allowances, and of a married private receiving allowance for a wife and child; and also of the cash values of the various grades of commissioned officers under similar domestic circumstances, as given in the case of privates?

As the statement is long and complicated, I will circulate it in the OFFICIAL REPORT.

Following is the statement:

Pay and Allowances of Combatant Officers.

Daily Rates.
Rank.Pay.Accommodation and rations for officer himself.Family lodging allowance issuable in respect of family of a married officer with wife and one child.Totals.
Unmarried officer.Married officer with wife and one child.
Lodging allowance.Fuel and light allowance (average).Ration allowance.If officer is 30 years of age or over.If officer is under 30 years of age.Officer who is 30 years of age or over.Officer who is under 30 years of age.
After 6 years' serviceAfter 6 years' serviceAfter 6 years' serviceAfter 6 years' service
After 11 years' serviceAfter 11 years' serviceAfter 11 years' serviceAfter 11 years' service
After 14 years' serviceAfter 14 years' serviceAfter 14 years' service
2362810364Not applicable
After 22 years' serviceAfter 22 years' serviceAfter 22 years' service
336411487Not applicable

Notes.—As regards married officers, the above particulars relate to the case of a married officer who is separated from his family by reason of being on service, this being the position of the majority of married officers in present circumstances.

Lodging, fuel and light and rations will usually be provided in kind for an officer, but the allowances shewn in the above table are those issuable when he is required to provide them himself.

Pay and Allowances of a Private Soldier.

Daily Rates.
Rank.Pay.Accommodation and rations for soldier himself.Family Allowance for Wife and one child.Totals.
Lodging Allowance.Fuel and Light Allowance (average).Ration Allowance.Unmarried Private.Married Private with wife and one child.
PrivateFrom 2s. for a non-tradesman on first joining to 5s. 9d. for a skilled tradesman with more than three years' service.1352733…4 (with an additional 6d. if the family is residing in the London Postal Area).From 6s. 3d. to 10s.From 9s. 6.4d. to 13s. 3.4d. (with an additional 6d. if the family is residing in the London Postal Area).

Notes.—Lodging, fuel and light and rations will usually be provided in kind for a soldier, but the allowances shown in the above table are those issuable when he is required to provide them himself.

As regards married soldiers, the above particulars relate to the case of a soldier who is separated from his family by reason of his being on service, this being the position of the majority of soldiers in present circumstances.

Auxiliary Military Pioneer Corps


asked the Secretary of State for War whether he is now in a position to make a statement concerning the title of the Auxiliary Military Pioneer Corps; and whether it is the intention to arm all ranks of this corps 100 per cent. for Defence purposes?

While I have every sympathy with the representations made by my hon. and gallant Friend, a change of title would involve many consequential alterations in documents, badges and the like, and I do not think I should be justified in recommending it at the present time. It has now been decided to arm all the British members of the corps.



asked the Secretary of State for War whether he is prepared to support a scheme for affording convalescent treatment, with adequate family allowances over the period, to all men discharged from the Army with a health breakdown following a short period of Army service, after having been initially passed by a medical board, so enabling many such men to become fit to resume the remunerative jobs they vacated on being called up?

Provision is made for men who are discharged as medically unfit for further service in that each soldier so discharged is granted one month's furlough with pay and allowances. Normally, the man goes home as soon as it is decided to discharge him, and this provision enables him to have a month's rest if he so desires in which to adapt himself once more to civilian conditions. After the expiration of the month's furlough, if the disability is attributable to service during the war, the man will receive from the Ministry of Pensions any award of pension appropriate to his case, with family allowance if permissible.

Is the Minister aware that the present system is not working satisfactorily, and that there is a large number of men who have not had sufficient convalescence to enable them to recover? Could he extend the system, with a view to bringing improvement?

Are proper arrangements made to see that they do actually convalesce during that time?

Acting Rank


asked the Secretary of State for War what is the explanation of the order issued from Royal Engineer records requiring that all non-commissioned officers who have not held their rank for 90 days and who were evacuated from France, south of the Somme, shall revert to the rank held before the 90-day limit, seeing that many of the men affected have been on active service since the outbreak of the war and fully earned their promotion?

I think my hon. Friend is under a misapprehension. Under the ordinary rules for promotion in war, acting rank is only granted to personnel actually with their units and is held, apart from short absences of less than 21 days, only for so long as they are performing the duties for which such rank is granted, except that if they have held acting rank for three months it is automatically confirmed into war substantive rank. According to a strict interpretation of these rules, a soldier who became detached from his unit during the fighting and evacuation and who, in consequence, ceased to perform the duties for which such rank was given would automatically relinquish it after 20 days' absence. Instructions were issued, however, to protect the soldier from the operation of the normal rules and to allow him, even if he were separated from his unit during the evacuation, to retain his acting rank pending the reorganisation of units. Whether a soldier continued in his acting rank after the reorganisation had been completed would depend upon whether or not he was performing the duties of his acting rank.

Am I to understand from that answer that there may be men who were involved in the evacuation from France on the various occasions who have not been able to ascertain their full rights in this matter and that they are entitled to apply for them, and have been reduced in rank in consequence of their service overseas?

My hon. Friend can understand that we have taken special steps to protect their acting rank in these exceptional circumstances.

Entrenching Tool


asked the Secretary of State for War what type of entrenching tool it has been decided to introduce as an integral part of the soldier's equipment; where it will be carried; and when it is expected that the first issues will be made?

The entrenching tool is in the form of a miniature shovel. It is carried in a webbing carrier, attached to the belt of the web equipment. First issues have already been made.



asked the Secretary of State for War whether arrangements have been made for home leave for all British Expeditionary Force men who have returned to this country, and what is the nature of same; have free railway warrants been issued for such leave, and is it a special and not one of the regulation leaves; and how many leaves per annum with free warrants are granted to members of the Forces?

Arrangements have been made to enable British Expeditionary Force personnel to spend 48 hours in their homes on special leave with a free travelling warrant, additional to the two free warrants a year otherwise admissible for travelling on leave. Almost all of those concerned have already had this special leave.

Is the right hon. Gentleman considering extending the number of leaves per annum which may be given to Service soldiers?

In present conditions, my hon. Friend will realise the difficulty of that.


asked the Secretary of State for War why the applications of soldiers for leave on account of serious illness are frequently held up so long that death and, in some cases, burial has taken place before the soldier reaches his home?

It is certainly my desire that such applications should not be held up beyond the minimum time necessary for investigation. If my hon. Friend will give me particulars of any cases that have come to his notice, I will have them investigated.

Is the Secretary of State aware that he has had a number of cases of long delay from me, and will he see that, whether the delay is caused by muddle or pinpricking, the distress which soldiers naturally feel at these times is not increased by unnecessary delays caused by War Office red tape?

I am very anxious that there should be no unnecessary delays, but quick verification is not always easy, as the hon. Member knows.

National Defence Companies


asked the Secretary of State for War to what extent men who enlist in the National Defence Companies are employed in their own localities; whether he is aware that in certain instances older men of this corps, notwithstanding age and their lower medical categories, are on training and duties with young men recently joined for general service; and whether, in view of the object of original National Defence Companies enlistments, he can take steps to offer transfer to their own localities to these older men to serve together and thus replace younger general service men who are there stationed for defence purposes?

Men who enlisted in National Defence Companies undertook, by the terms of their enlistment, to serve wherever called upon in the United Kingdom, but every effort is made to enable such men to serve near their own homes, so far as military requirements allow. The younger men are, as a rule, in separate companies. It would not be practicable to arrange any general system of transfer, but I shall be glad to consider any particular cases that are brought to my notice.

If I bring to the notice of my right hon. Friend the cases of a number of men of low category and advancing age who have been taken to the North to work with young, general service men, will he look into the matter personally, without any disciplinary action being risked by these men?

There is no question of disciplinary action, but I will gladly look into the matter.

Mail Censorship


asked the Secretary of State for War why letters written by soldiers in Ireland are opened by examiners, and are letters sent to soldiers in Ireland opened and examined?

Letters written by soldiers in Ireland are subjected to examination in the interests of security. All mail between Great Britain and Ireland, including letters written to soldiers in Ireland, is subject to censorship.

Are letters written by soldiers in England, Scotland and Wales opened and examined?

Prisoners Of War


asked the Secretary of State for War what is the position as regards pay and allowances of prisoners of war?

Regulations regarding the issue of pay and allowances in respect of prisoners of war have been published in Army Order 71 of 1940, of which I am sending my hon. and gallant Friend a copy.

Suspicious Political Activities (Committee)


asked the Prime Minister whether the Swinton Committee is attached to any special Government Department?

I have already told the House in answer to a Question last week by the hon. Member that it is not in the public interest to give information about this committee or other committees connected with Secret Service, counteracting Fifth Column activities and the like. I take full responsibility for the control, character and composition of the committee, which contains among others a prominent trade union leader.

Can the Prime Minister say how long the trade union leader has been a member of this Committee; whether this Committee is in any way responsible for the police searches which are going on in many parts of the country in homes of Labour and trade union officials, and does he approve of the prohibition—

The hon. Member must confine his Supplementary Questions to the subject of the Question on the Paper and the answer. I cannot allow all these Questions to be asked.

May I ask this Question, which, I submit, arises directly out of the answer given by the Prime Minister, who went into some detail? May I ask him whether he approves of the prohibition which has gone out that no newspaper may mention this Committee without special permission?

Yes, Sir, and I am rather surprised that the hon. Gentleman persists in asking this Question. The Government have stated on their own responsibility that they do not think that it is in the public interest that this should be discussed.

Is the Prime Minister aware that there is very considerable public uneasiness about this matter?

German University


asked the Prime Minister whether, in view of the fact that the Germans have thought it worth while to announce the establishment of a Breton university in Brittany, he will consider the desirability of establishing a German university in this country?

No, Sir. We have plenty of other things to think about at the present time.

Instead of squandering money for the benefit of enemy aliens as the hon. Baronet suggested, will my right hon. Friend adhere to his decision to spend all the money available on bombs and other lethal weapons to destroy the enemy?

Would the right hon. Gentleman receive a statement on the case to show how very valuable such a step would be?

Enemy Aliens


asked the Prime Minister whether he will instruct every Department of State concerned to describe such persons as may have established their right before a tribunal to the status of refugee from Nazi oppression, by that title, and not as enemy aliens?

The expression "enemy alien" merely means a foreigner who is the subject of a State at war with His Majesty. It is fully recognised that many such persons are not hostile to this country and that in referring to them it is better to use such a phrase as "persons of enemy nationality," but it is not always possible to avoid the term "enemy alien" which is the legal description used in certain statutory enactments.

Can the right hon. Gentleman tell us how we are to distinguish between our friendly enemies and our hostile friends?

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that the classification of victims of Nazi oppression was notified on all passports as "Friendly Aliens"? Why not stick to a description which is very familiar, namely, "Victims of Nazi oppression"?

Internees (Visits)


asked the Prime Minister whether he is aware that, as a result of a failure of co-ordination between the Home Office and the War Office, it is now virtually impossible for internees to receive visits, even from their lawyers on urgent business; and whether he will take steps to see that this unnecessary injustice is removed?

I have been asked to reply. I am sorry if the hon. Member has experienced difficulty in obtaining information regarding, or permits to visit, internees. I understand that there has been a very large number of applications for permission to visit internees on business matters, and that the Prisoners of War Department of the War Office have been endeavouring to regulate the grant of permits in accordance with the relative urgency of the requests, and, in particular, to give priority to visits to internees who are going overseas.

The hon. Gentleman really answered this Question before I asked it. I wanted to raise the point of Order why this Question was being answered by someone other than the Prime Minister, in view of the fact that for the last eight days I, personally, have been sent from one Department to another and have found nether knowing which was responsible for this matter. For that reason I put the Question down to the Prime Minister because of the lack of co-ordination between two Departments.

May I ask a Supplementary Question, then, on the answer given? Is the hon. Gentleman aware that at the end of eight days' investigation, of the kind to which I have referred, I was told by a representative of the War Office that no permits were being given to allow internees to be seen by their legal advisers except in such cases as those under which powers of attorney had already been given or the internee was immediately proceeding overseas?

Obviously, it is all important that internees should have an opportunity of consulting with their legal advisers. There has been a large number of applications to visit internees, and I understand that the rules laid down by the Prisoners of War Department have had to be modified on the lines of the answer I have already given. If I may explain about the lack of co-ordination referred to in the hon. Member's Question, it is, I think, partly due to the fact that the hon. Member approached the Private Secretary to the Under-Secretary of State for War on a matter in which he is professionally concerned, and a civil servant, placed in a difficult position like that, does not know if an hon. Member is approaching him as a matter of public interest or in his professional capacity. The natural inclination of a civil servant when placed in a dilemma of that kind is to pass the responsibility on to somebody else.

Will the hon. Gentleman explain to the House why on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday of last week he personally explained to me that permits would be granted but were ultimately refused?

At the end of Questions—

On a point of Order. Would I be in order to give notice now that owing to the unsatisfactory nature of the reply to Question No. 49, I propose to take an early opportunity to raise the matter on the Adjournment?

National Finance

Jersey Copper Coinage


asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether Jersey copper coinage is recognised as being valid currency in this country or not?

No, Sir. The copper coinage of Jersey is not legal tender in the United Kingdom.

May I ask how these refugees from Jersey are to live in this country, since they had only two hours to get away and no time in which to get any kind of money?

Agricultural Credit Facilities


asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether, since no concession has been made by the banks to the agricultural borrowers in their charges, which remain at 5 per cent. on money borrowed, he will consider a scheme for subsidising credits to approved borrowers in cases which were supported by recommendations from the county war agricultural committees on the grounds of the high interest charges preventing the maximum output being obtained from the farms?

For the reasons explained by my right hon. and gallant Friend the Financial Secretary in the course of the Adjournment Debate on 18th July, I do not think this course is necessary.

Is my right hon. Friend aware that the lack of money and the high interest charge—5 per cent.—on borrowed money are impeding and holding back the national effort for food production more than anything else to-day? Why is it that he will not do anything?


asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether, since agriculture is recognised to be an industry essential to the war effort, he will give some assurance that the banks would give preference in granting credits to such industries, as compared with non-essential industries; and also an assurance that no collateral security, such as stocks and shares would be required, but that the advances could be made on the standing crops and livestock alone?

The banks are already giving special consideration to requests for credit by industries which are essential to the war effort, including agriculture. Further, I am satisfied that the banks are not insisting on the provision of collateral security for advances to farmers where a farmer's general position, which, of course, includes standing crops and livestock, reasonably justifies the credit required.

What is the use of all this great pretence and these wordy evasions? Does not the right hon. Gentleman realise that something must be done?

Is it that by these wordy evasions the Chancellor of the Exchequer does not know the answer? What does he qualify for if he does not know the answer? [Interruption.] In view of the thoroughly unsatisfactory nature of that reply, I will raise the whole matter on the Adjournment at the first possible opportunity.

If the hon. Member cannot behave, I shall have to ask him to leave the House.

Land Acquisition, Abbotsinch


asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer which of the seven plots of land at Abbotsinch, purchased from seven different owners, were regarded as revenue sales, and which as capital sales?

No information can be furnished as to whether a particular sale of land is a revenue sale that attracts liability to Income Tax, as the disclosure would involve a breach of the statutory rule that particulars of the Income Tax assessment are confidential.

Is the Chancellor aware that a short time ago he told me that revenue sales would be subject to tax, and is it not right, in view of this particular transaction, that we should know which are revenue sales and which are capital sales? The view of many people is that all the money ought to be returned.

I explained the general principle so far as I could, namely, that these are matters concerning the liability of individual persons which I am not permitted to disclose.

Is the Chancellor aware that I have a letter here from the Town Clerk of Paisley in connection with this ground, in which he asks the Government not to buy this land because it would be absolutely impossible to utilise it for the purpose they desire?

Purchase Tax


asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether it is intended that Government publications will be subject to the Purchase Tax?

Is my right hon. Friend aware of the public indignation about the tax on newspapers?

Does the Chancellor realise that in this particular case the Government are the wholesalers and that a minimum number of Government publications must be printed, so that the only way to get back some of that cost is to sell additional copies to the public?


asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether it is intended that the Bible will be subject to the Purchase Tax?

Yes, Sir. Income Tax is payable on the profits of the sales of Bibles by commercial publishers and booksellers, and the liability of such books to the Purchase Tax would seem no less equitable as a contribution to the war effort.

Does the Chancellor not realise that this publication is in a special category, not only by reason of its content, but also because it can be published only under licence and, therefore, has statutory recognition of its special character?

That may very well be so, but I suggest that a tax on the Bible in these circumstances is a contribution to the national war effort.

Tobacco And Cigarettes (Armed Forces)


asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether he is aware that although the men in the Navy are entitled to duty-free tobacco and cigarettes, the men in the Army and Air Force have no such concession; whether he will take steps to provide the same benefits to all men serving in the Forces, or alternatively, in view of the increased cost of tobacco and postage, consider increasing the pay of the men by 6d. a day?


asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether he appreciates that the Budget proposals will still further depreciate the real value of service pay and allowances and will involve increased hardship on the men and their dependants; and whether he will take action either to increase the soldiers' pay or to secure financial relief or rebate in respect of postage, tobacco and refreshment, travelling expenses or other expenditure?

As I stated in my Budget speech, the increased taxation which is necessary must fall on all sections of the community if, as we must, we are to continue to make our greatest effort. With regard to the particular case of tobacco, however, hon. Members will have noted the statement made by my right hon. and gallant Friend the Financial Secretary in the Debate on the Budget Resolutions on Thursday last, to the effect that the views of the Service Ministers on the matter are being obtained in the light of the increase proposed in the Budget.

Does the right hon. Gentleman appreciate that the lower-paid men in the Forces are being heavily burdened by these increased charges, and will he give an assurance that the inquiry to which he has referred will be expedited; and will he advise me shortly when to put down another Question on the subject?

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that there is a good deal of discontent in the Services because of the increased burdens placed upon the soldiers' incomes when so many of them find it difficult to meet their ordinary commitments?